The first time I experienced Community Acupuncture was when I was living in South Korea. As a public school English teacher I received health benefits that included Chinese Medicine for a mere $5. After a friend’s recommendation I went to see her Doctor. I walked into a beautiful office and was lead into a large treatment room with beds and chairs all around, some with curtains for privacy and others open to the room. I was led to a bed and made comfortable. The doctor did my intake and the needles were carefully inserted. Meanwhile all around I could hear, see, and feel the other patients. The room was abuzz with all the healing patients were experiencing. It was such a unique experience for me at the time, having always seen a doctor in a private room. Here healing was not a private thing to be endured alone, but was a communal experience. Family members could be with their loved ones, and in their common desire to heal each patient offered a smile and nod to each other.
When I returned home it was several years before the first community acupuncture clinics began popping up in Vancouver. Though this model was slightly different, the decor was more western, no family members were around, and there were no curtains, the energy was still the same: the energy of people coming together to heal in community for an affordable price. It is important for us to be reminded that we are not alone on our journeys, that others also have difficulties and challenges. This can build our resilience. This is most crucial throughout the journey of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This is a time when we need to find our inner strength and be supported by those who have walked the path before us and those who are walking it with us. Gathering together and sharing the experience of pregnancy; the joys, the worries, the aches and pains, the nausea, the flickering of fetuses, can make our experiences much richer and more bearable.
In the final weeks of pregnancy, as we prepare for birth we look to our sisters, mothers, friends, aunties and peers for support and reassurance. At this time community acupuncture can help your body prepare for birth. Cervical ripening, sometimes called pre-birth acupuncture, begins at 36-37 weeks gestation. It consists of a series of treatments given once a week, based on your unique experience. Specific points are chosen on the hands, arms, legs and feet to help support the body’s natural process of preparing for birth while balancing any discomforts that you may be experiencing with your pregnancy.
Some of the benefits of pre-birth acupuncture include:
- Cervical softening/ripening/dilation
- Increasing blood flow to the Uterus
- Supporting, regulating hormonal levels leading up to labour, including enhancing oxytocin release
- Calming the mind and balancing emotions – fear & anxiety prior to childbirth, post-partum depression
- Encouraging optimal fetal positioning and/or addressing breech/posterior positioning
- Potentially decreasing pain and exhaustion during labour
- Enhancing efficiency of labour, and shortening active labour
- Reducing the rates of medical interventions
- Addressing ongoing issues throughout pregnancy such as musculo-skeletal pain, gestational diabetes, edema, anemia, etc.
- Potentially a faster recovery, less complications following childbirth
- Promoting lactation, supporting breastfeeding
Throughout my own pregnancy I received acupuncture for a variety of discomforts but it was the cervical ripening treatments in community acupuncture that allowed me to take the time and space to settle into my body, to be reminded of all the women who went before me and connect into all the support that existed in my own community. Research has shown that cervical ripening acupuncture can create a more effective and shorter labour with a reduced rate of medical interventions. My experience as a mother, doula and treating women in clinic supports these findings.
I am delighted to be offering community acupuncture at Mothering Touch on Friday afternoons from 2:00-5pm. I invite you to come and be apart of this affordable community healing experience.
Marika Reid Hall BA HDP RAc
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Betts D, Lennox S. (2006) Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture May; 17(3):17-20